Minute in Support of a Truth and Healing Commission for native Peoples

It is long overdue for the US to acknowledge the historic trauma of the Indian boarding
school era. Port Townsend Monthly Meeting supports the “Truth and Healing
Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy Act” (HR 8420) that was considered by
the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019-2020. Although HR 8420 did not become
law at that time, Senator Elizabeth Warren has recently introduced amended legislation
as Senate Bill 2907. She consulted with the National Native American Boarding School
Healing Coalition for the revisions of the bill.

The bill’s purpose is to set up a Truth and Healing Commission to address the historical
trauma experienced by Native American and Alaska Native children who were forcibly
removed from their homes between 1869 and the 1960’s and placed in Indian Boarding
schools. The children were taught to reject their Native languages, cultures, and
spiritual practices and adopt Euro-American culture. Native Americans continue to
suffer multigenerational trauma caused by this policy of forced assimilation and cultural
genocide. Quakers were among the strongest supporters of the Indian boarding school
policy and operated some 30 Indian schools (some in collaboration with the federal
government) for varying periods of time. Now we must work with tribal nations to
advance congressional efforts to establish a federal commission to formally investigate
boarding school policy and develop recommendations for the government to take further
action. Although the wrongs committed at these institutions can never be made right, we
can start the truth, healing, and reconciliation process for the families and communities
affected as we work to right relationship with tribal nations.

Port Townsend Monthly Meeting urges individual Friends and monthly meetings to
watch for this bill and to urge their congressional representatives to co-sponsor and
support it. PTFM further urges Friends to learn the history of the Quaker Indian schools
and consider ways to support Native-managed healing processes, in our own
communities, and nationally. These programs could include Quaker initiatives such as
Toward Right Relationships with Native Peoples, Decolonizing Quakers, FCNL’s Native
American program, as well as many other programs that support Native peoples,
preserve Native traditions, teach Native languages, recognize the ongoing trauma of
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and prevent youth suicide.

Resources for Further Information and Reflection
1) The website for the National Native American Boarding School Healing
Coalition. https://boardingschoolhealing.org
2) Paula Palmer’s video “The Quaker Boarding Schools: Facing our History and
Ourselves.” https://vimeo.com/192219802/376f2f1ddb
3) Paula Palmer’s article “Quaker Indian Boarding Schools, Facing Our History and
Ourselves,” Friends Journal, October 1, 2016.
4) Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples
website, https://friendspeaceteams.org/trr
5) HR 8420 link: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/8420/text
6) Decolonizing Quakers website, www.decolonizingquakers.org
7) Interior Secretary Haaland’s article, “My grandparents were stolen from their families
as children”

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